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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Big Impacts by Small RNAs in Plant Development)

item Chuck, George
item Candela Anton, Hector
item Hake, Sarah

Submitted to: Current Opinion in Plant Biology
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/6/2008
Publication Date: 2/12/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Chuck, G.S., Candela Anton, H., Hake, S.C. 2009. Big Impacts by Small RNAs in Plant Development. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 12(1):81-6, Epub 2008 Nov 6.

Interpretive Summary: In this review we summarize major advances made in small RNA biology relevant to plant growth and development. We focus on recent discoveries made in dicot plants that uncover either parallels, or, significant differences with monocot crop plants. Special emphasis is placed on a class of negative regulators of gene expression called microRNAs that control developmental timing and meristem cell fate. We propose that developmental transitions in plants are dependent on the relative balance of two microRNAs called miR172 and miR156.

Technical Abstract: The identification and study of small RNAs, including microRNAs and trans-acting small interfering RNAs, have added a layer of complexity to the many pathways that regulate plant development. These molecules, which function as negative regulators of gene expression, are now known to have greatly expanded roles in a variety of developmental processes affecting all major plant structures, including meristems, leaves, roots, and inflorescences. Mutants with specific developmental phenotypes have also advanced our knowledge of the biogenesis and mode of action of these diverse small RNAs. In addition, previous models on the cell autonomy of microRNAs may have to be revised as more data accumulate supporting their long distance transport. As many of these small RNAs appear to be conserved across different species, knowledge gained from one species is expected to have general application. However, a few surprising differences in small RNA function seem to exist between monocots and dicots regarding meristem initiation and sex determination. Integrating these unique functions into the overall scheme for plant growth will give a more complete picture of how they have evolved as unique developmental systems.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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